Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Dear Papa,

It's not over.
It didn't end.
It never will.

There is no time, no distance that could make me
any less your daughter.
You knew that already, I think.
I didn't understand when you
said that I had
grown up years ago.
This was only a marker, the
bubble baths and crayon art, my
formative years, so well documented in
Mama's office, so that people always ask if she has
had ended long ago.

Every bubble we blew,
every story we read,
the formulas you struggled to teach me and
the eggs for dinner when Mama was
out late,
the articles you found for me,
the Sinatra songs you learned to like,
they're with me here.

Your presence is in the
curl in my hair and the
way I read poetry, for
impact, in how I
like my coffee and
how I like my

I grew up your daughter, and was afraid that grown I wouldn't be.
Now I know that your impact
is unchanging.

When I go, and
when you go, it
makes no difference.

It's only miles.

yr daughter

Sunday, September 16, 2012


Dear Papa,

I haven't started the book you sent.
It's on my night stand, under a
 couple others that I'm
pretending to read.

Maybe inside the book
you sent,
there is some hidden truth, some
formula for
letting go.

I'm a curiosity, Papa, a
character in a novel with an
interesting backstory.
We might study my motives
and emotions, my rising and falling,
and tie them to specific instances,
or patterns.

We like backstories, and motives.
We are fascinated by the minute
part of the mind we are able to understand, amazed by how much,
how little
of this great mysterious aspect of life we can

Mine would be too personal, because you
love me,
and what motivates me would make you

I'll bring the book, then, today.
And I'll look for answers you didn't mean to send.

I find immense comfort in the safety you imagine for me.

yr daughter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Dear Papa,

When we left, I woke up to a sky full of stars and a
porch full of roses, peachy in the yellow glow of
a lamp on the wall, and I
never breathed air so thin and sweet,
crisp on my cheeks, and our
our street, kissed me goodnight,
good morning,

I left behind nothing, nothing,
Clean space, clean slate,
empty white walls,
like the ones I found here.

I'm filling them up,
photographs smile and
a calendar hangs.

In the darkness, eyes closed, I see only those stars,
and smell only those roses.

yr daughter

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Dear Papa,

It's down to hours.
I uncovered layers of
names I'd forgotten, who
peopled my world for a time.
We wander into each others lives
eyes closed, mouths open,
and then exit wordlessly,
into a blur of lost faces and
lost interest.

My walls are empty now.

Nothing is ending, you say,
it ended years ago.
you're right, of course.
These goodbyes are temporary, unnecessary,
or are voicing the otherwise
wordless exits of those
not destined to stay.

It starts in your bones,
and flows through you,
formless, random,
unrestricted by shape.
No order, no meaning, no anger;
Only the chaos that is life.

I'll wander carefully,
only half-blind.

yr daughter

Friday, August 17, 2012


Dear Papa,

There's still time,
you say.
Mama's counting dinners on our calender,
and I write lists, categorizing
my childhood into boxes.
Here are the figurines picked out of years of
Red Rose tea boxes;
here are teddy bears and
Russian novels and 
when I pick the sweaters off the floor,
you can see the little round marks in the wood,
a tribute to years of impractical shoes.
Here is this body that
isn't mine.

There's still time,
nothing to worry about.
you said.
I was fourteen
and Mama was
nervous when I
unbraided my long, dark hair,
and cut it into the curls that
fall down my back,
my tiny rebellion.
She found out in a phone call,
and felt betrayed.

"You look like a whore," she said,
and I hung up.

You knew better than to intervene,
and I looked at my reflection with
bitter amusement.

For a time, I thought I could own it
if I controlled it.
I found power in shape,
and sought safety in power.

There isn't any, Papa.
yr daughter

Monday, August 13, 2012


Dear Papa,

You're on to me.
You have to be.
I know you are.

I come and go through windows like your eyes,
leaving coffee cups and earrings and lipstick stains.
I'm a  phonecall away, always.
This spring, I called home late once
to lie about where I was sleeping.
Before the lie, we talked a while,
just chatter, about the mutual part
of our lives.
Then, we said goodnight, and hung up.
and I lay awake in a bed you wouldn't want me in,
until the guilt was overwhelmed by the
memory of laughter in your voice.

I never slept well there.

Now, the lies are natural.
Or I don't even bother with them.
I say I'm not coming home,
and your "Ok, goodnight" clicks while I
listen to the second of silence
that preludes
my thoughts in the night.

In two weeks, you take me to my new life.
I hope I can make one more stable than this.
I'll try not to waste our time anymore.

yr daughter

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Dear Papa,

Once, you had a dream that
some boy had hurt me.
Mama woke you up with your hands around her neck,
because you wanted to crush him.
"Boys are jerks." you say periodically, shaking your head
 starting early,
while Mama braided my pigtails.
Maybe you thought if you started early enough,
you could protect me from all of the mistakes,
or that I would learn not to take it
Or that I would stay your daughter and
only your daughter.
That the eyes that fell on me would notice only the
curves of my smile,
and that every smile that befell me would be genuine.
It didn't work, of course.
Like every other daughter, I grew into
a little woman,
 and like all little women,
I make mistakes
and take it all personally.
They smile ironic half-smiles,
and I'm not sure whether to cry or
because it really doesn't matter.
 your hands,once giant to my infant fingers,
don't need to crush anyone.
These things happen, you know.
I don't think the
will ever stop.
But maybe, someday I'll make fewer (not less, Papa, I know),
and when I meet the man who
will someday tell my daughters, "Boys are jerks."
I'll know better than to take things
so personally.

Thank you for wanting to protect me.

yr daughter